JMA Productions Showcase 2014 – Session 2
Westlands Leisure Complex Yeovil
Producer John Mills
Reviewer Mark Ritchie
JMA Evening session.
As South coast and West-Country bookers gathered for the evening session, with everyone fed and watered, it was up to comedy one-off Andy Ford to set the tone. Surreal humour formed an unlikely alliance with the art of the compere on this special evening. Thanks to Ford’s gormless winsomeness, the trick of making this totally original comedian morph into a compere for a whole evening just about came off.
Sunny Daye was next and this expansive performer certainly made quite an entrance. As Editor of this publication, my belief is that I have a responsibility to declare when the recipients of reviews are close friends. As this is the case here, I will simply say that Sunny Daye is always a pleasure to behold and I hope she soon lets me in on the secrets of her slimming regime. Daye is just as sunny as ever, but is adorned these days by garments of a much smaller variety.
I am a huge fan of Drew Cameron and always have been! The sheer likeability of this most gifted of comedy impressionists is Cameron’s biggest attribute. All the more puzzling then that, aside from a brief recent talent show odyssey on one of the Cowell self-glorification vehicles, the denizens of the student’s union bars and west-end comedy clubs who run television, continue to ignore his special talent.
Grease v Blues Brothers provides the opportunity for a pair of lookalikes to Sandy and Danny to sing about those Summer Nights. Soon they were joined on stage by Jake and Elwood to become a four handed attraction. We have surely endured enough ‘Blues Brothers’ at showcase events to make it feel to some as though sunglasses and trilby hats are coming out of our ears. However this marriage of two tributes may just broaden the idea out a little and rekindle interest, provided the presentational and choreography side is tidied up fair a bit.
Song and dance man Lewis Dixon opened by putting on the Ritz and quickly gave the impression of a creature from musical theatre-land who is developing a cabaret act. A self-confessed show business geek, young Dixon is the proud owner of a truly special voice. Dixon would look great fronting a big band on a cruise ship stage.
Ultimate Elton does exactly what it says on the tin. Here we have a bewigged and bedecked pianist by the name of Paul Bacon, who I spied most recently at the inaugural National Tribute awards last year in Lichfield. An exact clone to a national music treasure called Reg?…Well almost!
The Kings of Harmony give themselves a tall order in terms of living up to their name. Three smartly presented harmony singers gave us everything from The Four Seasons to The Drifters. A spot of a cappella stuff was a tad ambitious and overlong, but these guys still looked very marketable nonetheless.
Officially voted Britain’s most talented family not so long ago on the GMTV show, The Beardsmith family bands star was once very much in the ascendency. An energetic and influential management may still get behind this all singing/all playing quintet of siblings and put them back in the television spotlight. The fact is this band are ultra-tight and superbly produced. Constantly coming up with new gimmicks and shows, Beardsmith are writing their own impressive material too and surely are deserving of true stardom by now.
After a welcome interval, the action resumed with a six piece band called The Bleeding Noses. This live six piece played a selection of their own compositions and for some reason I couldn’t stop thinking of bands of yesteryear such as Lindisfarne, McGuinness Flint and The Strawbs. A confection of harmonicas and banjo sounds was leavened by a country rock beat and some truly rousing tunes, such as a great banging and driving ditty called Dead Flowers that really kicked.
The Voicetones are a self-contained musical trio, as opposed to a live band. A small scale function or cabaret attraction perhaps, this all male line-up appears to be trying to cover far too many bases. I would suggest that vocal harmony is possibly their most lucrative route.
Closing the show out was singer and musician Glenn Owen, who presented his Bruno Marz Experience. This young man looks like a refugee from the band scene who is making his mark in the tribute field. Impressive in every respect, Owen rounded off a very business-like and pleasant day in a rainy Somerset.
Well done to the JMA team, especially John and Di Mills and their ultra-efficient stage management and sound team. As for the choice of Compere, Andy Ford is one of the last performers I personally would choose to front a trade showcase. However the canny Mills clan were clearly bang on the money, as Ford battered his audience into comic submission and retained and sustained audience attention for the acts during a long and ultimately enjoyable day.